NASCAR Cup Series: Top Bets for Sunday’s Texas O’Reilly Auto Parts 500
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
After a week off, the NASCAR Cup series is back, visiting the third 1.5-mile oval of the season at Texas Motor Speedway. This is the second year on the newly configured track at TMS.
With six races completed, my machine learning model is heavily weighted toward 2018 results, especially at the 1.5- and 2.0-mile ovals. Additionally, both short- and long-run speed show up as significant in the model. I’ll also use the RotoViz Driver Sim Scores to gauge race-winning upside.
As always, make sure you shop around for the best price. Let’s dive into this week’s picks for Texas Motor Speedway.
Kyle Larson: +850
Larson was impressive in the two races at Texas last year. In the spring race, he started 32nd and drove through the field to finish second. During the fall playoff race, he led over 25 percent of the laps, but a late-race crash relegated him to a 37th-place finish. Larson showed both short- and long-run speed in both post-qualifying practice sessions. The model gives him the second-highest average finish, and the Sim Scores give him a median finish of 4.5 in incident-free races, with three of the 18 closest comparable drivers winning in similar situations in the past.
Denny Hamlin: +1350
Hamlin led 20 percent of the laps in the series’ most recent visit to TMS, and for the second race in a row he’s happy with his car at this track. Hamlin ran five laps in second practice and posted the second-fasted speed in that session, and he skipped Happy Hour altogether since he was pleased with the car prior to the session. The model gives Hamlin the fourth-best average finish among all drivers, and the Sim Scores give him a median finish of 3.5 with three of his top-16 closest comparable drivers winning in similar situations.
Kevin Harvick: +215 — Parlay
Harvick (pictured above) should be the car to beat this weekend, and he makes for a great parlay with your favorite prop bet. Harvick has won both of the 1.5-mile races in 2018, and he probably had the car to beat at Auto Club Speedway before crashing while battling with Larson early in the race. Harvick also won the most recent race at Texas, practiced inside the top five in both post-qualifying practice sessions, and posted the best 10-lap average in final practice. The model gives him the best average finishing position, and the Sim Scores show that six of Harvick’s 18 most similar comps won their races.